3 Songs on Poems of Robert Graves
for Voice and Tape (1984)
by Ron Hannah

  1. Warning to Children
  2. Spoils
  3. Thief

Words: Robert Graves
Duration: about 8 minutes

    Challenging and fascinating pieces, these songs are unique in my output. The tape accompaniment was created on very basic equipment back in the 1980s: a Yamaha DX7 synthesizer and a portable 4-track cassette machine. This being a more modern age, the tracks have been digitized to MP3 format, which you will be able to hear if you click on the buttons below. In fact, I am giving you the choice of hearing both the premiere performance and the electronic accompaniment to each song on its own.

The score is graphic, and written notes sometimes stand for actual pitches, or they may equally indicate only roughly where the performer is to sing within his or her range. It will be a stretch, but a rewarding one, if you have not tried this kind of thing before.

    The poems are mystical, cynical, vengeful and of great force. The accompanying sounds are also evocative and dramatic. I am often dubious about those who only 'compose' electronically since they may or may not understand the craft of musical composition. Introduce a text and the sound creator is then forced to deal with form, notation and other aspects of the composer's art. I once had one of these 'sound poets' confide to me that he was "...thinking about learning to read music". He had the temerity to call himself a composer, too!

    Send me an email (below) if you are interested in seeing the score and obtaining the MP3 files.

    The songs were premiered by Lori Bell (alto) at the inaugural concert of the Edmonton Composers' Concert Society. They have since been performed by sopranos Margaret Cartile and Nelda Schulte (who hated the poems).